There was confusion over the situation in Bakhmut, scene of the war’s bloodiest battles. Ukraine said its forces still had a foothold in the ruined eastern city and were attempting to encircle it after Moscow claimed to have captured it. Neither claim could be independently verified.
Russian president Vladimir Putin congratulated Wagner and Russian regular forces on “the completion of the operation to liberate Artyomovsk [the city’s Soviet-era name]” after Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin posed among the wreckage and said his mercenary group controlled the entire city.
However, speaking at the G7 summit in Hiroshima on Sunday, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said: “Bakhmut is not occupied by Russian Federation as of today. There are no two or three interpretations of this.” Ukraine’s deputy defence minister, Hanna Maliar, said that Ukrainian forces were still “holding the defence” in the city’s “airplane area”, adding: “Our forces have taken the city in a semi-encirclement, which gives us the opportunity to destroy the enemy … the enemy has to defend himself in the part of the city he controls.”
Zelenskiy secured fresh military aid from the US during a day of frantic diplomatic activity at the G7 summit. US president Joe Biden announced military assistance worth up to $375m (£300m) to Kyiv, telling Zelenskiy the US was doing everything possible to strengthen Ukraine’s defence. The package includes ammunition, artillery, armoured vehicles and training.
Biden told a press conference that he had received a “flat assurance” from Zelenskiy that he would not use western-provided F-16 fighter jets to go into Russian territory. Biden said F-16 warplanes could, however, be used “wherever Russian troops are within Ukraine and the area”. Biden told G7 leaders that Washington supports joint allied training programs for Ukrainian pilots on F-16s warplanes, although Kyiv has not won specific, public commitments for delivery of the fighter jets.
In a G7 speech, Zelenskiy said Kyiv’s plan to end Russia’s war in Ukraine was “an obvious expression of rationality”, and sought support for his “peace formula”. He thanked western leaders for achieving “a level of cooperation which ensures that democracy, international law, and freedom are respected”, but questioned: “Is this enough?”
Zelenskiy played down the fact he did not meet Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on the sidelines of the summit, saying it was likely because of scheduling. Lula has said Zelenskiy and Putin bear equal responsibility for the war and accused western powers of encouraging the conflict.
Russia’s foreign ministry dismissed the G7 summit in Japan as a “politicised” event which it said had pumped out anti-Russian and anti-Chinese statements. In a statement posted on Telegram, the Russian foreign ministry said the G7 had “irreversibly deteriorated” and that the forum had become “an ‘incubator’ where, under the leadership of the Anglo-Saxons, destructive initiatives that undermine global stability are prepared”.
Berlin police have opened an investigation into the suspected poisoning of two Russian journalists visiting the city for a conference last month organised by the Russian Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The probe comes after Russian investigative media group Agentsvo wrote that the two women had reported symptoms that pointed to possible poisoning around the time of the event at the end of April.
The head of Russia’s Security Council Nikolai Patrushev will hold talks on Monday with Chen Wenqing, member of the Chinese Communist party’s politburo who oversees police, legal affairs and intelligence, the Russian RIA state news reported. Patrushev, a former chief of the FSB internal security service, is widely seen as one of the most hawkish members of Putin’s inner circle.